Conference paper

Enabling Sustainable Broadband Adoption in Rural Areas: A Case Study of Information Network Villages in South Korea

1 Dec 2013

Due to distance and low density, rural areas are often disadvantaged in getting access to telecommunication infrastructures. Hence rural digital divide policies tend to focus on providing access. While narrowing the access gap has been largely effective in developed countries, it is what happens after getting access that is more important than connectivity itself. Connectivity must be followed by effective utilisation of the technologies in order for it to be beneficial to individuals and communities. This study examines South Korea's Information Network Village (INVIL) project as an exemplary policy of sustainable broadband adoption in rural areas. The program was designed to narrow the digital divide between urban and rural areas, create new sources of revenue and to build sustainable rural communities. Due to this multi-layered and long-term approach, the villages have been successful in narrowing the digital divide, not only in terms of access but also in effectively utilising broadband to enhance the local economy and build cohesive communities. The outcome of the program was evaluated based on the policy framework. Then a case study of three INVILs was conducted to provide an in-depth assessment of the program's outcome. The unique feature of the program is that it emphasises investment in human capital rather than infrastructure and includes a long-term vision for each local community. This motivates local residents to be active participants in the program. Beyond the provision of high-speed networks, continuous programs that are tailored to local needs are necessary in order to facilitate sustainable broadband adoption.

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